Thursday, June 20, 2024

Ringling 1993: Big Bike

Ringmaster Eric Michael Gillett, Boss Clown Dave DeDera as the old lady, and cyclists Darren Cooper, Max Richardson, Ray LeClair, David Frank, and Zac Whinnem performing the big bike routine on the Ringling Red Unit in 1993.

This was during David Larible's tenure as headliner on the Red Unit, so this was the Alley's one big ring spot for the tour.
As a kid I remember being disappointed that there wasn't more of the Alley clowns in the show, although between Come In gags, track gags, and walkarounds, they were doing more that the clowns got to do in the final decade or so of the show's run before the "closing" in 2017.

This act was on the Blue and Red Units in 2000-2001 and 2011-2012 respectively, but done by Eastern European acrobats. 
It is my understanding that the clowns in this act suffered many injuries from the apparatus, which is not surprising. That thing is a beast! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

In Remembrance: Leon "Buttons" McBryde

Leon McBryde passed away today. Many people know him best as Buttons, a clown who got his start in the business by graduating from the Ringling Clown College in 1969.
After spending a year on the Blue Unit, he toured ahead of the Greatest Show on Earth as a Goodwill Ambassador. 

His true legacy to clowns will be his work in clown education as a founder of the program Advanced Studies, of which he is a founding member, and also as a top clown nose maker. Leon and his wife Linda created the company Proknows, which sold all kind of clown supplies, most notably a fantastic array of clown noses that the majority of clowns in America have worn.

Throughout his career Leon performed as Santa, which became his main source of performing in his later years. 
He is an inductee of both the International Clown Hall of Fame and the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame, and was a loved and respected practitioner in both fields.

Above is a video of Leon and Michael "Coco" Polakovs taken at Advanced Studies in the 1990s.
What I have written is just a brief glimpse into Leon's long, full life. Please feel free to add more information, stories, or thoughts in the comments below.